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New Halls given Planning Permission

Planning permission has been granted for new student halls of residence to be built on the corner of Fawcett Road and Heyward Road by Portsmouth City Council Planning Committee.

The new building, which will join onto the neighbouring doctor’s surgery, will consist of 18 self-contained flats and three cluster flats comprising of seven and eight bedrooms.


The site of the proposed halls

In total the new halls has the capability to house up to 41 students.

Local residents had spoken out against the plans prior to the decision on the basis that the area already has enough students, some of whom are responsible for anti-social behaviour.

Mr Kennedy, a resident of Heyward Road, said: “Old people in the area are already worried about going out at night;  40 more students will terrify them.

“We had students next door to us. After one Friday night the landlord threw them out because the place was wrecked.

“You cannot trust students if they get a bit drunk, and to put 40 of them here is just asking for trouble.”

They were also concerned that the extra 41 students would exacerbate the traffic and parking problems that already exist in the area.

However, the building’s architect, Mr Bloomfield, assured the committee that traffic wouldn’t be a problem.

The plan contains storage for 51 bicycles and as such Mr Bloomfield argued that it should be considered adequate to meet parking standards.

After a further deputation from Dr Laly, on behalf of the surgery that would be attached to the halls of residence, the planning committee voted in favour of the proposal despite obvious reservations.

Councillor Lee Hunt, Lib Dem councillor for Central Southsea, attended the planning meeting to speak against the proposal, and was frustrated that the committee were essentially forced to approve the plan because of the inspector’s recommendation.

Speaking after the decision, Councillor Hunt reiterated his negative feelings towards the plan.

He said that the effect the halls will have on parking and traffic will be disastrous: “The major downside of this building for local residents is that the 44 rooms will see yet more cars coming into an area where on-street parking is already at a premium.

“No one can tell students to leave their cars at home, nor is there a law to make them and we would not support any law like that. So the cars will end up parked all week, or even all month on the street, and believe-you-me this will cause friction with long-term established residents.”

The fact that this was student accommodation didn’t bother Councillor Hunt as much as these more pressing issues, although he did share some of his constituent’s concerns: “It is also a fact that sometimes what we do as younger people upsets neighbours – especially at three in the morning.  My experience is that long-established residents like the vitality that students bring and tolerate some poor behaviour too, but there is a limit.”

Students are not just a cause of concern for their neighbours though, they have also helped to rejuvenate and revitalise Portsmouth in recent years, particularly in the terms of the commercial side of the city.

Councillor Hunt acknowledged the benefits that a new community of students could have on the area: “There is no doubt that students and the student economy have assisted in the creation of many new businesses, helping to revitalise the shopping and cafe economy of Albert Road and Fawcett Road and Elm Grove, which were dying on their feet 15 years ago.”

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